Grow and Share

grow-share-3Our Grow and Share project kicked off in the spring of 2013 and has been going strong each season. It is open to the general public. Individuals, schools and social service agencies. Individuals who take a plot are asked to donate 20% of their plots produce to someone in need or a non for profit organization. Soulful Prairies organizes two drops per growing season to local food pantries.

Our goal is to create a sense of community where individuals help each other. Each year is kicked off with a spring meeting where introductions and reconnecting occurs.  Participants are asked to help stake out and mark plots. The plots are open for planting in the beginning of May. Throughout the growing season individuals are encouraged to work together to help with weeding and watering; sharing any expertise they may have. Emails keep all growers in contact with each other and Soulful Prairies sends updates and information as needed

The Grow and Share program is excited to kick off its 4th season this spring. This past fall the ground was cover-cropped with winter rye grass as well as fertilized with manure from Soulful Prairies’ own horses. With focused aimed towards improving the quality of the garden soil, sustainable techniques such as composting, cover-cropping, and crop rotation


Managing a plot on your own can be difficult, especially with environmental factors like weeds, pests, and inconsistent precipitation. We also understand that gardening can also be put on the back burner due to other aspects of life such as work, family, and travel taking precedence. Being a successful gardener also requires one to be a good observer. Deciding when and where to plant, starting crops from seed or transplant, and deciding when and how much to water are all decisions that require careful observation.  Simply put, it can be fun and easy to start a garden, but it takes consistent work and care to maintain it throughout the season. Isn’t there an easier way? We are happy to announce that a new and exciting production aspect of Grow in Share will be available this season. Members will be given work schedule sheets with pre-assigned dates and times to fill out in which Dan will manage and be present on the farm (2-3 days/week from May-November) Member tasks will vary from planting, thinning, harvesting, packing, weeding, data collection/labeling. Labor hours will be logged and exchanged for produce from the market garden. Learn more about

This year Soulful Prairies will be offering two options with the Grow and Share

1 – The Grow and Share Plots – 25×50 ($50) and 50×50 ($75) plots will be available again for individuals, families and groups. If you sign up for a plot you are responsible for planting and managing your own plot while getting the flexibility to grow whatever you like.

2- The new Grow and Share Community Market Garden – This is a cooperative garden under the direction of farmer Dan! You will be volunteering your time that you would normally spend on your own plot and reap the harvests of over 30 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. The purpose of this market garden is to supply produce for Soulful Prairie events, local farmers markets, Dan’s CSA, and of course the Grow and Share Community Market Members.  Learn more about CSA.

*Community Market Crops for 2016: Asian greens (arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, choy, etc. ), spinach, swiss chard, beets, snow peas, snap peas, pole beans, carrots, radishes, turnips, kale, collards, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, ground cherry, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, leeks, shallots.

You may take part in both of these fabulous programs and we will be running a few workshops and our annual picnic again this year.

Dan will also be putting out a newsletter with tips, ideas and recipes every other month.

* We will continue to ask members to donate a portion of their produce to not for profit organizations in need.

Dan Pilguy
dan-16Dan is on board to lead the way at our Grow and Share Gardens. Dan graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a degree in Health and Human Physiology. After graduating he and one of his buddies, T.D. began a diversified sustainable vegetable farm on T.D.’s Grandparents farm in Iowa. The produce is used for a CSA for individuals near the Iowa location and also in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. Dan’s passions revolve around promoting the local food scene and educating individuals about alternative healthy growing options.

Cool things to watch for at the Grow and Share:

  • Workshops on subject matters in the areas of: natural pest control, companion planting composting, edible forests, perennial gardens and fall crops. *Ideas and suggestions are always welcome!
  • A grant from the Illinois Buffer Partnership Program to offset costs involved with a bee pollinator habitat and edible forest project.
  • Volunteer help opportunities with edible forest and in others areas that will be rewarded with a share of CSA crops.
  • A new shed where produce can be washed, weighed and stored.

*To learn more about Dan you can go to his website at or visit him on Facebook.

View the Photo Gallery.

To help your garden grow, we offer:

  • On site well with five hydrants, hoses and sprinkler heads
  • Garden shed with garden tools available to share
  • Compost bin for waste
  • Drive up access to each plot


Linda , I’m so glad I met you, you inspire me to do better with my life and be a better person.
Sometimes this world can get you down with bad attitudes, sadness, child abuse and the list
goes on and on. It’s nice and refreshing to meet a true humanitarian and a person with simply
a good heart. Thank you for being who you are,. You deserve every wonderful thing that happens
to you. I have a bigger garden this year so I can give produce.
“What a great year Smart Farm had on your property! We harvested 385 pounds

of butternut squash, 65 pounds of acorn squash and 415 pounds of pumpkins!! That
is 865
pounds we donated to food pantries just in that little plot! Thank you!!”
“I have learned patience, and humility in the sense that I can do everything right,
but it is God that actually grows the food, and sometimes grows it and then allows
it to be damaged in some way to make us thankful for the good ones! I have also
been learning different food preservation methods-hot water canning, pressure canning,
freezing, dehydrating, which allows us to have the awesome veggies & herbs through
the winter, too! It is also good for the kids to experience the concept of 
“this is where the food comes from” vs. “just go to the store and buy it”.
Grow and Share Family
“We donated approximately 80# of cherry and Big Boy/Roma tomatoes to the
Wonder Lake Food Pantry and Church families. Approximately 20# of green
beans to the Wonder Lake Food Pantry and church families, and 10# of sugar
snap peas to church families. Unfortunately, our pickles, cucumbers, and zuchini
plants didn’t produce much of anything. The spaghetti squash I will be giving to people at church.”
“Thanks you again for this great opportunity and blessing.”
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